Family Statement Delivered At the Church Service by Samir F. Fuleihan

Kirk in the Hills, Bloomfield Hills, MI, Thursday November 11, 1999


Dad was this gentle 92-year-old man who has been visiting with us.  Most of you have seen him around and you suggested to us that he has touched you in one way or the other.  I often heard you describing him as “such a sweet man, a gentleman, a real gentleman, such a polite man; so respectful and so proper….”


Yesterday night, as I was preparing my statement, I came across the Diary of our late mother.  My mother, Hana, passed away in 1985 and since then my dad was never the same.  She wrote in her high school diary, as she was dreaming about her future partner in life; “Very often I think of my future life, home and partner. I must be wise enough to choose a suitable husband in order to live in peace and gladness.  I like him to be about seven years older than me, to look brave, handsome and gentle; to be generous, wise, honorable, faithful, unselfish, hard working, ambitious, kind, sport, frank and a serious man."


Our mother did meet this man in a tiny church in the village of Ain Zhalta, Lebanon. Ain Zhalta is a beautiful little village in Mount Lebanon perched between pines trees, vineyards, apple groves and cedar trees. Out of this union came the five of us: Amin our eldest brother, deceased in 1991 and buried next to my late mother in Orlando, Florida. Fuad (from Greece), his wife Mary Ann and their children Farid (in Boston), Nadia (in South Africa) and Ramsey who is here tonight and always was a joy to his grandfather.  Myself, Samir, and my daughter Leila who was so special to Dad.  Nadim (from Orlando), his wife Joyce and their children, Christina Hana and Antony Amin.   Last but not least, Camille (from Boston), our youngest brother.


The real story of Dad goes back to the time when his father, our grandfather Amin, was born in Ain Zhalta in 1861. At about the same time (1866) an American Presbyterian mission established the Syrian Protestant College, which later became known as the American University of Beirut. Grandfather graduated with an M.D. from the University in 1886.  When Dad was born in 1907 his fate and mission were intertwined with the mission of the American University of Beirut.  Dad attended the University, graduated in 1929 with honors, and served as the Registrar and then Director of Personnel for over forty years.


Dad was one of those people born at the turn of the century who was led by guiding values and principles. He was gentle, just, fair, and open-minded – still, he had commitment, strength of character, resilience and did not waiver to uphold the principles and values he believed in.  External appearances, riches and the surfaces did not sway him. It was always the core.  It was these principles that he taught us.  He taught us to respect all the beliefs, the various religions, cultures and ethnic groups of the region.  All these principles were greatly emphasized in our upbringing.


Finally, as I said in the opening, Dad was 92. He came to visit me in Michigan about four months ago. Initially, I thought that with him around, my chores would be increased.  Very soon I realized that having him with me was a blessing.  I slept better and worked harder. At work I was told I am looking more energetic than ever before and I was asked whether I am taking any hormones. I realized that Dad has transferred a lot of inner strength and energy to me, even though his body was failing.  The day before he passed I called my brother Camille and told him I am going to keep our Dad for a longer time in Michigan. Camille was beside himself. He wanted Dad back with him in Boston. He said “It is not fair, Dad has left for a few weeks only, but this has gone on for too long”. He said he wanted Dad back in Boston because he needed him.   Our dad was listening on the phone and he heard it all.  Now I understand the meaning of the old Arabic saying, “Whomever does not have an old person, should borrow one."


In summary, Dad was our Best Friend!


Dad requested that his remains be buried next to mother's and that the tombstone should read:


“Together Forever.

Resurrection is Our Hope.”



In closing, I would like to recite some verses extracted from a poem by Kahlil Gibran, titled “The Beauty of Death” (1914) and dedicated to Mary Elizabeth Haskell.


“Let me sleep, for my soul is intoxicated with love, and

Let me rest, for my spirit has had its bounty of days and nights;

Come close and bid me farewell;

Touch my eyes with smiling lips,

Let the children grasp my hands with soft and rosy fingers;

Let the aged place their veined hands upon my head and bless me;

Take my body from the ivory casket and let it rest

Upon pillows of orange blossoms.

Carry me upon your friendly shoulders

Carry me to the cypress woods

Cover me with soft earth, and let each handful be mixed

With seeds of Jasmine, lilies and myrtle;

Lament me not, but sing songs of youth and joy;

Shed no tears upon me,

Utter no signs of agony,

But let your hearts sing with me the song of Eternal Life;

I have passed a mountain peak and my soul is soaring in the

Firmament of complete and unbound freedom;

I am cloaked in full whiteness;

I am in comfort; I am in peace."